Monday, July 27, 2009


Last Thursday night I ran a 5k road race, while at the same time I ran a 5k road race. But I didn't race a 5k road race. Confused?

It seems that for some reason, someone (namely Pete Coumounduros, chairman of Friends of Reading Recreation) thought it would be a good idea to make me the the race director of the FORR 5k road race. So three years ago at a highly organized meeting at Chili's bar, a group of us began planning our first annual event and somehow here we are 3 years later with what looks like a fairly legitimate 5k road race on our hands. In fairness, I am really co-race director with Pete, Chris Ritondo and Mark Hudson. The four of us have shared the planning and promotion of the race almost equally since it started, and Pete is great at hooking in lots of other folks to help out. It really is a group effort from start to finish.

This time we decided to add a 14 and under age group to encourage more families to run, and I thought I'd throw out the challenge to my 12 and 10 year old girls, Allie and Emma. Knowing that we have great volunteers, I figured I should be able to let go my RD responsibilities for 30 minutes or so, and actually run the race with the girls.

Over the last couple of months I did some training with them, when they wanted to. I wanted it to keep it as low-key as possible while making sure they weren't scared of the distance. I was fully confident they could both run the whole thing, but they weren't as sure. We did a few training runs of up to 2 miles, but never really went longer than that. On the day of the race, they were both a bit nervous though neither would let on. After I spent the afternoon setting up the race with the guys, Gina brought the girls down to get ready. They got checked in and even did a little warm-up jog around the park to shake out the nerves.

Nervous? Who me?

We lined up way in the back of the pack--I didn't want them to feel any pressure to go out too fast--and I held them back quite a bit in the first couple of miles. We chatted as we rolled along with the long train of runners up ahead. After a mile, we were into our rhythm and the girls felt confident. The first mile was 10:12 or so which was slower than we'd run in training lots of times. At 2 miles they were working a little more, but still in control. As we passed the old Pearl Street School at about 2.5 miles, a couple of their friends were playing in a soccer game on the field and their parents cheered for the girls by name as they went by. This gave them a boost and soon after we could hear the hoopla at the finish.

Once on the field I told Emma to take off if she wanted and I'd stay with Allie. There was about a third of a mile to go, just a lap around the park. She went ahead a little bit but then Allie started to turn it on too and she kept her sister in her sights. In the end they both had plenty left in the tank for a big charge to the finish.

Emma bringing it in strong

Allie charging across the line leaving her old man in the dust

Emma took home hardware for finishing 3rd in the 14 and under age group, just 10 seconds ahead of her big sister. Both girls wore huge grins of accomplishment and are looking forward to their next race.

Much later, after the kids and wives had gone home, a bunch of other stuff happened. I know we broke down from the race in the rain, it got dark, there may have been a few beers consumed under a tent in the middle of the field. Pizza World may have had to come back with more pizza for the race crew. I believe the quote as the pizza was being ordered might have been something like, "Yeah, we'll be the ones under a green and white tent in the middle of the field."

The Hudson brothers may have raced a beer half mile that may or may not be the catalyst that leads to an official beer mile event in future years. If this were to happen it would likely NOT appear in our permit application with the town. A few of us may have brought the last remaining tent and chairs to a guy named Sean's garage near the park at around midnight. Details are hazy.


FORR 5k website.

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